PUBLIC policy consultant Wan Agyl Wan Hassan has urged the government to develop a comprehensive “exit plan” for full-time gig workers.
This call comes amid worries that many young individuals are opting for the allure of “easy money” in the gig economy instead of pursuing long-term career development.
The gig economy in Malaysia currently valued at RM1.33 bil has proven attractive to a significant number of youths, particularly among the Bumiputera community.
“The gig economy is great for people looking to supplement their income, and for many, especially during the pandemic, it was a lifesaver,” news portal Free Malaysia Today quoted Wan Agyl as saying.
“But what is worrying is that there are many who are, by choice or otherwise, dependent on the gig economy, and this includes many fresh graduates who are not working in jobs they studied for,” the Agyl & Partners managing partner added.
While the gig economy has served as a financial lifeline for many during the pandemic, concerns have been raised about the lack of stability, social security, health coverage, retirement savings, and career progression for those fully dependent on gig jobs.
Wan Agyl pointed out the need for the government to gain a clear understanding of the gig economy sector, particularly the estimated 1.12 million gig workers in the country, and assess how many are entirely dependent on gig jobs for their income.
“That is the crowd we are worried about, not those who join the gig economy to supplement their full-time income or retirees working gig jobs to pass their time and earn pocket money.
“What happens if they (full-time gig workers) suddenly cannot do gig work, or if the big companies close? What will happen to these workers? What prospects do they have?”
Moreover, Wan Agyl highlighted the absence of social security, health coverage and retirement savings for many full-time gig workers and called for the government’s involvement in crafting realistic and practical “exit plans” in collaboration with gig economy platforms.
These plans should focus on providing targeted skills development programs aligned with current market demands, ensuring that gig workers can transition into emerging sectors such as e-commerce, electric vehicles, and other digital and tech-related fields.
Furthermore, while recognising existing initiatives such as Socso and EPF contributions for gig workers as well as government-funded training programs, Wan Agyl stressed the need for increased education about the importance of building a sustainable career.
He noted the significance of avoiding overly stringent regulations that could impede the flexibility and growth of the gig economy.
“What the government needs to do is engage gig economy platforms to devise realistic and practical ‘exit plans’ for gig workers. It is important to avoid stringent regulations that could harm the flexibility, dynamics and growth of the gig economy.”
As projections indicate that gig workers will make up 50% of the workforce by 2030, Wan Agyl’s call for a government-led “exit plan” addresses the pressing need to secure the future prospects and well-being of those fully engaged in the gig economy. – Dec 27, 2023
Main photo credit: HRM Asia